A customer is accusing a popular Fort Worth veterinarian of stealing animals and conducting blood transfusions on her dog, which was supposed to have been euthanized.
On Tuesday, officers stood guard outside the Camp Bowie Animal Clinic as investigators seized two dogs.
“It’s part of the investigation,” said Sgt. Raymond Bush, a Fort Worth Police spokesman. “So, at this point, these animals are evidence.”
Jamie and Marian Harris of Aledo filed a report to the state last week, alleging animal cruelty at the clinic. They learned their 5-year-old dog, a Leonberger named Sid, was still alive, six months after he was supposed to have been euthanized because of a congenital spine disease.
Marian Harris says her dog was being bled for plasma by veterinarian Lou Tierce. KERA made repeated attempts to reach the veterinarian, but he declined to comment. On Wednesday, Tierce denied the allegation, telling the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that it's "all a bunch of hooey."
Tierce was arrested Wednesday on a warrant accusing him of cruelty to animals. The Star-Telegram reports he turned himself in and was released on $10,000 bail.
State officials on Thursday suspended Tierce's license. Agents from the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners found animal organs in jars.
Sid is now at home with the Harris family.
“The betrayal, it’s just, you know, it’s indescribable,” Marian Harris said. “I just don’t want anyone else to have to go through that.”
A former clinic employee, Mary Brewer, called the Harris family about the pet, saying she witnessed animal abuse at the clinic. But Brewer was afraid to report it because she says she's a convicted felon.
“What can you do when you’re not a credible person, you know?” Brewer said. “You’re going against somebody who has a business of 40 years, a respectable veterinarian, who is going to believe me?”
Here's what the Harris family's lawyer says happened:
In May 2013, the Harrises took Sid to the clinic for what appeared to be a minor anal gland issue. Tierce persuaded the family to keep the dog at the clinic for treatment. Last fall, Sid's condition had deteriorated. Tierce recommended that the dog be put to sleep. The Harrises consented. But, then, earlier this month, the family got a call from Brewer.
On Tuesday, the news of the allegations spread fast as pet owners came to ask about their animals. Symantha Spence of Fort Worth rushed to the clinic to see if her two golden retrievers were still alive.
“I just want to know that my dogs are buried, and not in this building,” Spence said. “I just don’t know what to say. And we have a new appointment tomorrow, with our new puppy, so we’re going to have a family discussion to decide if this is where we want to continue our care.”
But another customer, Bruce Barker, says he’s going to wait and see if there’s any evidence of animal abuse. He’s been bringing his dog to the clinic for a decade.
"I'd be very, very upset, extremely upset, if it was proven," Barker said.
The Harris family, through an attorney, explains what happened to Sid: